Late last year Google announced via the Android Developers Blog that with a relentless focus on security and privacy they would be limiting which apps can ask for permission to a user’s phone (call logs) and SMS data. Only apps approved by Google will be able to use these permissions.
This week Google have published a reminder for developers on the same blog about the new SMS/Call Log policy changes. Google have sent the developers of all apps that ask for this permission an email reminding them that they need to submit a Permissions Declaration Form for approval to use this permission or to remove the requirement of the permissions from the app. Developers were given 90 days to perform the above or their apps may be removed from the Play Store.
Google developed new APIs to help apps have similar functionality while at the same time not requiring full and continued access to a users call log/SMS. So far tens of thousands of developers have resubmitted their apps to support the new policy or have submitted the declaration form for review.
Over the next few weeks Google will be removing apps from the Play Store that ask for the SMS or Call Log permission and have not submitted the permission declaration form. Google have stated that:
Only an app that has been selected as a user’s default app for making calls or text messages will be able to access call logs and SMS, respectively.
The new policy has been appealed by some developers who have won exemptions (eg. Tasker) but others which require the permissions for part of their functionality have not so far. Hopefully non-nefarious apps who require this permission for their functionality will all gain exemptions from Google.
Going forward it is good to see Google tightening up Android even more but we hope that it will not degrade the user experience in some apps. After all that is the strength of Android — the sheer number of ways you can use your device and the deep integration of apps allowing this.